And while I’m thinking about the Vine and the branches…

1 10 2009

A few days ago I had posted the inane comments by one “Fractal Fires” and his proof texing of John 15; the vine and branches discourse, and juxtaposed it with John MacArthur’s analysis of the passage.

I found another exegesis of John 15 provided by Grace Theological Seminary. It was written by Charles R. Smith, who is a Professor of English Bible and Theology at Miami Bible College and it was so well done that I thought I’d share it with you also. It’s attached in PDF format and here is a teaser:

The text of John 15 has been one of the historical battlegrounds of doctrinal interpretation. Perhaps only the passage in Hebrews 6 has been the scene of more battles between the Calvinistic and Arminian schools of interpretation concerning the matter of eternal security. Not only has this text provided the field for many battles between these two schools of theology, but there have also been a great many skirmishes ~~ the two camps upon this same battlefield. Particularly among Calvinists there has been disagreement as to the interpretation of this passage.
Though there are other important problems in the parable of John 15:1-8, the most significant question concerns the identification of the unfruitful branches mentioned in the parable.
Arminians have generally understood the unfruitful branches as representative of true believers who, because they become unfruitful, lose their salvation and consequently are ultimately cast into the fires of hell.
Calvinists have been divided as to the identification of these branches. Some have taught that they represent true believers. Most have taught that they represent unbelievers who profess to be believers. Still others have taught that two kinds of unfruitful branches are discussed: professing Christians, and true Christians who do not produce the fruits of Christianity.
Though Arminian views will be rebutted briefly, the primary purpose of this study is to investigate the major interpretations of the passage that have been suggested by Calvinists and to determine, by a careful study of the text and its context, wherein these interpretations have departed from the intent of the Speaker. The identification of the unfruitful branches will be the principal concern.

Here is the PDF


And speaking of God…

25 09 2009

A brother and I were discussing a passage of scripture this week and we were just marveling at God’s mercy and love toward us. That got me to thinking about what God’s attributes are. As I was trying to articulate them, I remembered the Westminster Confession. I’m grateful to attend a church that is “Confessional” which is to say we “confess” (that we agree with) the Westminster confession of faith. It’s a document that was commissioned by the English parliament during the English Civil War (1642-1649) and used in the American Colonies.

The Westminster Confession was adopted by the delegates of the Congregational Churches of New England in 1648. It was their common declaration of faith. I’m thankful that God gave us these great men of faith who penned this particular document.

With that mini-history lesson finished; I’ll get right to the text of the confession itself. (I’ve deleted the scripture references; there were pages of them just for this section.)

From the Westminster Confession:

Chapter II

Of God, and of the Holy Trinity

  1. There is but one only, living, and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions;  immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him; and withal, most just, and terrible in His judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.
  1. God has all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of Himself; and is alone in and unto Himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which He has made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting His own glory in, by, unto, and upon them. He is the alone fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things; and has most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for them, or upon them whatsoever Himself pleases. In His sight all things are open and manifest, His knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature, so as nothing is to Him contingent, or uncertain. He is most holy in all His counsels, in all His works, and in all His commands. To Him is due from angels and men, and every other creature, whatsoever worship, service, or obedience He is pleased to require of them.

And to that I shout a hearty Soli Deo Gloria!

Get a FREE COPY of Logos’ Bible Study Magazine!

26 11 2008

If you haven’t heard…Logos launched a new magazine, a dead tree magazine…Called “Bible Study.”

I subscribed and it’s great….lot’s of good articles from hermeneutics, to the Dead Sea Scrolls, to how to pick a bible translation…

If you’re STILL unconvinced to part with your hard earned cash….then check THIS out….it’s FREE!!

Here is the text from Logos’ site:

4221So, you haven’t checked out Bible Study Magazine yet? Well, here’s your chance. For a limited time, we are giving away a free review copy of Bible Study Magazine.

In order to receive your copy, all you have to do is agree to write a review of the magazine anywhere you can, in a church bulletin, ministry newsletter, blog, website, forum, or any other place that you have the opportunity to communicate with people.

So, if you’d like a free review copy, send an email to with Bible Study Magazine Review Copy Request as the subject. Also, be sure to include your mailing address so I know where to send it!

Review FAQs:

Do I have to be a blogger or journalist to get a review copy?
No. If you have any outlet for sharing a review, then we’ll send you a copy. So, if you have a newsletter, church bulletin, email list, blog, website, skywriting service, or any other way to communicate with people, then you qualify.

How long does my review have to be?
Length is up to you. Obviously, if you’re putting something in a church bulletin, then you’re not going to have room for a full-out review. In that case, an adequate review might sound something like, “There is a great new magazine you should check out. Bible Study Magazine is an excellent resource to aid in your Bible study. More info can be found at” If you’re a blogger, you have more room to review, so feel free to make your review as long as it needs to be.

Do I have to send you a copy of my review?
Short answer, no. However, we would love to see what you thought of the magazine. If you post your review online, drop me an email or post a comment with a link below so we can check it out. If your review appears in print, you’re free to mail a copy to us. Skywriters, please send pictures!

Logos Bible Software
1313 Commercial St.
Bellingham WA 98225-4307

Another query for our LDS readers: Is it Benjamin or Mosiah?

3 09 2008

Here is a scan of a page of the Book of Mosiah chapter 21 verse 28 from the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon.

The book of Mormon is believed to have been translated by Joseph Smith from gold plates unearthed in New York in  the early 1800’s. During the translation process, each word was meticulously checked for accuracy before proceeding to the next word. This was no “judgement call” or “interpretation” of a foreign language.

If that is true, then how could there be any need for correction? I understand that the book was printed commercially, and those types of errors are to be expected, but as you can see below, in Mosiah 21:28 the name of a king has changed   the 1830 edition, to Mosiah in the current edition. How could a mistake like that happen, with the fact that this was translated directly from the Gold Plates?

It appears doubtful that it’s a printer’s error; the words look nothing like each other.

Could it be that this is not what it’s purported to be? Could it be that it’s a book written by a young man in New York, with no inspiration from God at all?


1,600 year old bible will go live online this week!

22 07 2008

If you haven’t heard…Codex Sinaiticus will be posted online for all to see and study….wow!

Here is a snippet of the press release….

BERLIN – More than 1,600 years after it was written in Greek, one of the oldest copies of the Bible will become globally accessible online for the first time this week.

read the rest here:

Are you SAVED or just SORRY?

6 05 2008

Brannon Howse over at Worldview Weekend wrote a good piece about what it is to be saved. As I am an “ex-false-convert” I can sympthaize with what he says. Read it and ponder his points, what about you? Are you just “sorry” and not “saved”?

On Being Sorry, Not Saved

By Brannon S. Howse

In several books, from the Worldview Weekend platform, and in various articles you’ve hopefully read here, I’ve sounded the alarm about the sorry state of the worldviews of many evangelical Christians. Numerous studies-perhaps the most stunning of which was done by the Southern Baptist Church of its own youth-reveal that the lifestyles, values, and the resulting worldview of most of those that attend “evangelical churches” is no different from the world and that a large majority of students leave the church after graduating from high school, never to return.

While the studies reveal the problem, they don’t explain what has caused it, but I believe I know. The root is that our churches are filled with false coverts. And it’s a problem I identify with all too readily because, despite being raised in a Christian home, taught in a Christian school, and a member of a Bible-believing church, I was a false convert myself until I was an adult. And the scary part of it is that it’s not all that hard to do!

I played the “game” (even though I didn’t know I was playing a game). I thought I was saved because I believed in Jesus Christ, had prayed the “sinner’s prayer,” walked the aisle, and had been baptized. I was “sorry” for my sins but it was not the kind of sorrow that produced repentance unto salvation.

My wake-up call came when I read the book of 1 John and recognized ten clear signs of a true convert but saw very few of those signs manifested in my own life. After searching the Scriptures further, I discovered the source of my dysfunctional attempt at Christianity in 2 Corinthians 7:9-10:

Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

True repentance was missing from my heart and, hence, my life! “Godly sorrow” causes someone to turn and go in the opposite direction of a willfully sinful life. True repentance leads to a change in a person’s life, priorities, and desires, and it produces God-honoring fruit.

You see, many people say they believe in Jesus, but this does not make them saved. Recall that the Bible says demons believe in Jesus (James 2:19) but so what? It’s not a saving belief.

Too often people say they are saved because they are sorry for the bad things they do, but they continue to willfully practice sin (can you say “Sunday Christian”?). The 2 Corinthians passage makes clear that there is a worldly sorrow that leads to death and another, godly, sorrow that produces repentance leading to salvation.

What really caught my attention and caused me to realize I was not a good person, that I was totally depraved and deserved hell, was when I encountered the Biblical teaching and doctrine of the moral law or the Ten Commandments. That made me realize only a godly sorrow that leads to repentance and salvation would do. The moral law revealed my true condition-my extreme sinfulness and depravity.

Sadly, repentance is not a Christian doctrine we hear taught often enough (many churches never teach it), and as a result, the church is filled with false converts. This dire reality should concern all of us. Scripture is forthright about how important this is:

  • The word “repent” and its various forms is used over 100 times in the Bible.
  • John the Baptist preached in the wilderness, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2).
  • Jesus preached this same message of repentance. Mark 1:14, 15 says, “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe the gospel.'”
  • In Mark 6, Jesus sends out the 12 disciples two by two. Verse 12 states, “So they went out and preached that people should repent” (italics mine).

Every day 150,000 people step off into eternity, and a frightening percentage of them fall into eternal judgment. And many who wind up under judgment are likely shocked when they realize their situation. Many will have thought they lived a good life as defined by today’s standards. They went to church, perhaps even walked the aisle and got baptized. Some even taught Sunday school. But Jesus warned us this would happen:
<i>”Not everyone who psays to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will qenter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who rdoes the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'” (Matthew 7:21-23)</i>

I thank God someone once spoke doctrine into my life, revealed the true condition of my heart and mind, and declared Code Blue for my soul. It’s time for the American church to declare Code Blue and return to teaching sound Biblical doctrine-to our children, teens and adults-because hearts and minds are at eternal risk.

If you agree that this is a series issue facing the American church then would you please join us in promoting the FREE, Code Blue Rallies we are holding in 8 cities this fall?

Complete details can be found at

We would also invite you to order our Worldview Weekend Family Survival Kit. Complete details are at this link.

p [Hos. 8:2]

q [John 3:3, 5]

r ch. 12:50

New Page Alert: Resources>Reformed Doctrine

24 04 2008

Just to update you; I’ve posted a “Reformed Doctrine” page for reference. It’s found at the top of this site on the page markers. It’s under the “Resources” tab.

It’s got refutations of some of the big “Calvinism Killer” verses, and other reference material. I’ll keep adding to it so that we don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel everytime there is an Arminian commenter that has the same FAQ’s.

Here is the direct link: